What To Do When Your Writer’s Gauge Is On Empty
Sometimes we need facts to dispel writer’s block, sometimes we need inspiration, but sometimes what we need is to be filled up. Not all writer’s block is actual blockage. Sometimes what we really mean is that we are empty. Writers are writers for their entire life, they may not be published writers for their entire life, but they are writers non-the-less. And, when you have been pouring out your soul for as long as you could write you will get empty from time-to-time.
Often writers feel like they have to be the voice of their generation. Or, that they have to be the observers of the world and write their observations in ways that everyone else can feel and understand them. Or, they feel as though they have to be the ones to tell the stories that will go untold without them. These are all big, demanding jobs. These feelings are what often lead to the emptiness so often called writer’s block.
Sometimes what we need to move past this is to fill ourselves up. Which seems selfish if you believe the above things to be true of a writer’s place in this world. But, you will never be able to pour out of yourself and tell of all the suffering and pain and joy and awe of the universe if you don’t replenish occasionally. An empty vessel can pour out nothing.
Does this mean you should take a hiatus from your writing? Just walk away until inspiration comes? No. Most of the time the inspiration follows the writing not the other way around. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit in front of your computer trying to squeeze out an entire chapter or book hoping there is inspiration in there. You need to do three things.
1. Complete your writing goal. Don’t stop writing just because you feel stuck or empty. It doesn’t have to be great. It doesn’t even have to be about the piece you are currently working on. It just has to be writing. You can even write about how much you hate writing at that moment. Or how you feel stuck, or lost, or like a phony. Your writing goals should be small, so just meet your requirement and stop. Don’t think, don’t fret, just write.
2. Silence the discouraging voices. Those voice are never louder than when you aren’t writing anything. Maybe they are what made you want to stop. Those terrible inner critics will tell you that you aren’t good enough or that what you have to say isn’t important or that it has already been said before. Good news: it probably has been said before so don’t let that worry you. Everything that has to be said has most likely already be said before, but it probably hasn’t been said in the way you have to say it, or to the people that you want to say it to. You can bring a unique voice or humor or perspective to ideas that have been around for millennia. So tell those voices to “shut up” and write your message in your own pithy, dark, optimistic way.
3. Get out and fill yourself up. Once you’ve met your word goal for the day get out. Like I said don’t sit at your computer and try to squeeze creativity out of your soul with a vice grip. If you are empty you can’t produce anything. You need to keep writing just to keep in the habit and not let yourself lapse. But, once you’ve met your goal you need to get out and replenish. You need to do the things that are most important to you. If today was your last day on Earth would you want to spend it pulling out your hair trying to force out words that aren’t coming? Or would you rather do your job and then go outside with your kids or watch a sunset or eat some really good food?
Writing is important. It is a part of who you are. But it is not the only important thing in your life and in the world. Being content is. That’s the best thing you can do for yourself when you feel this kind of writer’s block. Accept that you are in this place. Be content in it. Then go fill yourself up so that you can continue to do the thing you were meant to do with great joy and no regrets.
How do you fill yourself up as a writer? Share it with us in the comments section below.